By Mike Willis
I Psalm 119praises the word of God in a beautiful fashion. The psalm is an acrostic poem with eight verses given to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The first eight verses begin with the letter aleph; the second eight verses begin with beth; and so on through the Hebrew alphabet. Nearly every verse contains a reference to the law of the Lord under some such word as “way,” “law,” “testimonies,” and so forth. There are several ways to discuss the Bible, the revealed word of God, one of which is to notice some of the statements in Psalm 119.
The Bible Is The Truth
In an age that is extremely influenced by agnosticism, we need to be reminded that the Bible contains a revelation by God of the truth. “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth” (119:142). There are several observations which can be made from this verse. (1) There is an objective truth. (2) Truth does not change from generation to generation. (3) Truth can be known.
These facts stand opposed to much of modem thought. Many have the idea that there is no objective truth. Right and wrong are relative to the situation and the individual’s personal convictions. This verse categorically states that God’s law is the truth (cf. Jn. 17:17 – “thy word is truth”). This law is everlasting righteousness – a righteousness that does not change from generation to generation according to the moral values of different cultures and societies.
The Need For A Revelation
Man needs this revelation because of the limits of human reason. Although one does not want to underestimate the value or ability of human reasoning, he does want to recognize its limits. David said, “I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me” (119:19). Such a statement emphasizes man’s need for divine guidance. There are some things which man cannot know and understand without divine revelation. He could never know whether there are many gods or one God, whether God is good or evil, what he must do to please Him, or what is right and wrong. Without the Bible, man would be at sea without a compass, in a desert without a guide, in an enemy’s camp without a friend. David recognized his total dependence upon God’s revelation for guidance in life.
The Path of Righteousness
The Bible serves to reveal the path of righteousness to man in such a manner that men can distinguish light from darkness. The word of God is compared to a lamp to light our -path (119:105). “This is a true picture of our path through this world: we should not know the way, or how to walk in it, if Scripture, like a blazing flambeau, did not reveal it. One of the most practical benefits of Holy Writ is guidance in the acts of daily life: it is not sent to astound us with its brilliance, but to guide us by its instruction” (C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. VI, p. 243). David wrote,
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 7by word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee (119:9-11).
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (119:104-105).
The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple (119:130).
The revelation is so clearly revealed that even young men (119:9-11) and the simple (119:130) can perceive and understand God’s will. To hear some speak, a person might conclude that truth is so ambiguous that one cannot discern right from wrong. The psalmist did not agree. Knowledge of God’s word lets us know what is sin in order that we may avoid it. There is no fence or guard which can so effectually keep out every enemy to the soul as prayerful reading of the Scriptures.
The word of God gives a man wisdom in the decisions which he has to make in life. David wrote,
Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts (119:98-100).
The child of God who has decided to direct his life by the revelation of God manifests greater wisdom than all of the wise men who direct their lives on the basis of human reasoning without divine revelation.
Simple folks without degrees in sociology or psychology, who have committed themselves to following God’s word, have done a much better job in rearing their children than those who have followed the latest concepts of modern psychology in child rearing. Their children respect authority – the authority of parents, teachers and the law. They grow up to produce new families whic~ have commitment in their marital relationships; they are unlike the majority of the world who are willing to divorce for nearly any reason at all. They act responsibly in their jobs, providing an honest day’s labor for an honest day’s pay. They support the teaching of the Bible with their donations to the church, unlike those who undermine the moral standards of our country in their teachings regarding divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, drunkenness, gambling, pre-marital and extra-marital sex, and other acts of immorality. Indeed, these people show greater wisdom than the wise of this world.
Not only does the word of God give wisdom, it also gives life. David wrote, “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me” (119:50; cf. 119:25,37,40,88,93). The word “quicken” is archaic but it means to “revive, animate, invigorate.” In the description of Jesus as the judge of the ~’quick and the dead” (Acts 10:42), the “quick” are the living. Hence, “thy word hath quickened me” means that the word of God had given David life.
The New Testament explains this idea even more clearly. Peter wrote, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23). James wrote, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth . . .” (1:18). Paul told the Corinthians that he had “begotten” them “through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15). The word of God is the seed of the kingdom (Lk. 8:11). In order for one to become a Christian, he must hear the word, believe it, and obey it. Hence, men are born again through the word of God; the word of God produces spiritual life.
Encourages The Despondent
None of us escapes the problems of life. In every life there are problems which must be faced. The problems of life engulf and destroy some people; they are unable to cope with them. Some commit suicide, some resort to drinking andd drugs to cope with life, and others end up in mental institutions. The word of God helps us through the problems of life by giving us encouragement and reasons for living. The word which has preserved the heavens and the earth also preserves the people of God in the time of trial.
Consider these wonderful texts from Psalm 119 which praise and magnify God’s word.
My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word (119:28).
Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me (119:49-50).
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage (119:54).
My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word (119:81).
Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction (119:92).
I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word (119:147).
During the times of crisis in my life, the only certainties which I found were in God. My job relationships can be changed in one decision of one meeting. My health could be changed by an accident or some dreaded disease could be consuming me without my knowledge so that some routine visit to a doctor’s office could become my first notice of impending death. Economic hard times hit us without warning.
God is always there. He always loves us. He always desires our salvation. He always hears the prayers of His saints. He is always willing to forgive us. He always sustains those who trust in Him. The revelation of these facts about God are found in His word. Hence, His word has been that which has helped me to endure my periods of despondency. “The worldling clutches his money-bag, and says, ‘this is my comfort’; the spendthrift points to his gaiety, and says, ‘this is my comfort’; the drunkard lifts his glass, and sings, ‘this is my comfort’; but the man whose hope comes from God feels the life-giving power of the word of the Lord, and he testifies, ‘this is my comfort… (Spurgeon, op. cit., p. 130).
The psalmist wrote, “Great peace have they which love thy law . . . ” (119:165). The inner peace which one feels when he has done everything God has commanded of him sustains him through the darkness of the night. Even though he is not on the mountain top, but in the lowest depths of the valley, he finds peace with God and with himself. One song expressed this idea saying, “There will be peace in the valley for me.” Indeed, this is true. God’s word gives us peace during the times that we walk in the valley.
Understanding how the word of God gives us direction in life, the hope of eternal life, and strength to endure, we should treasure the word more than silver and gold. “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (119:72). Each of us should resolve anew to obey God’s word in all things – in areas in which we can understand why He requires us to do something and in which we cannot. “I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end” (119:112).
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 6, pp. 162, 180, 184
March 15, 1984